Silverchair in the U.K.
Silverchair aren't know very well over here. They've played a handful
of gigs in Britain (the most recent being at the Reading Festival), but
only a knowledgeable few even bat an eyelid when the three 16-year-old
Aussies pass through town.
It might have something to do with the fact that their album frogstomp has only just been released, and also that they haven't been playing very big venues.
When asked about their warm-up gig for Reading, vocalist Daniel Johns surmised, "There were about 120 people there. They didn't know who we were, but I think they had nothing better to do so they just turned up."
"Most of the times we've played the U.K. have been really small gigs, supports and showcases not for the general public, so we don't really know what crowds are like here. It would be good if things go well for us in England, but if it doesn't it wouldn't really bother us."
silverchair were particularly looking forward to playing Reading, as Soundgarden are one of their favourite bands.
So what would you say if you met your idol, Chris Cornell?
"G'day Chris!" offers Johns. "I wouldn't know what to say."
"We were at a festival in Germany and we walked past Jimmy Page and Robert Plant and we were just sitting there going, 'Fuuuck!' We were like a meter away from him and we didn't say a word. After it, I was just wishing I got a guitar signed."
So those guys are still cool?
"Yeah, they're hell! We got to sit on the side of the stage for their set and they were unreal!"
There has also been the problem of the more cynical members of the British music press taking cheap shots at silverchair for sounding a bit like Nirvana. Certain publications have also made the assumption that because vocalist/guitarist Johns has shoulder-length blonde hair and bears a resemblance to the Nirvana vocalist, his ambition in life is to be the reincarnation of Kurt Cobain.
"It used to bother us heaps," comments Daniel. "We used to get really pissed off about it because we never really liked Nirvana and never got into them, but now it's happened heaps but we don't give a shit. We just say: Who cares?"
But right now silverchair have bigger things to worry about. frogstomp has sold 140,000 copies in Australia and more than 650,000 in the United States, last week the album sold more copies than Michael Jackson's History. The band are currently touring the States for the first time, and hope to return for extensive dates supporting the Chili Peppers.
"We're pretty happy about the album going into the Billboard charts at number 17," comments Johns.
"I don't have a clue how it's selling in Australia. We don't really care if it went to top 10, but if it did we wanted it to hang around there for a while so it didn't look like it just went in and dropped out. It's done what we wanted it to, so we don't really care what happens now."
Touring for the Aussie trio is not quite sex, drugs, 'n' rock' n' roll: Their mums are chaperoning them, as they aren't old enough to get into venues they are playing, legally, they have to be accompanied by an adult to anywhere which has a license to sell alcohol.
So are your mums keeping a close eye on you?
"Not really. Usually the only time we really see them is before a gig and back at the hotel. The rest of the time they go somewhere and we go somewhere else. They love coming away, as they just go shopping!"
Have you made any friends on your numerous trips to the U.K.?
"Nah. We haven't met anyone really. We just hang around with our manager and our sound guy. We play a lot of jokes on eachother and piss each other off."
"We put heaps of shaving cream outside our manager's door, so when he has to go out he has to step in three feet of shaving cream."
"We do knock and runs at two o'clock in the morning so he has to get out of bed and there's no one there," laughs Johns. "We also melt chocolate around the toilet bowl so he thinks someone's had diarrhea on it!"
What about after a show -- you aren't allowed to drink or anything, are you?
"Nah. We drink coke. You wouldn't want to drink beer before a show anyway, as you would probably fuck up more than you already do. Usually after a show we go and get a hamburger, mess around for a while, and piss a few people off by knocking on their doors late at night."
Have you ever been drunk?
"No, never (laughs). Even if I had I wouldn't say, because my mum is probably going to read this (laughs)..."
When you played the LA2 in London, the gaffa tape on your amplifiers said "poo" and "shit." What was that all about?
"Um... I wanted to cover up 'Marshall' because they wouldn't give me an endorsement. We were trying to think of a really cheap amp name but couldn't think of one, so made up our own."
So what do you miss when you're away from home?
"Just the beach. We've never been away for more than a month, so we don't really miss our friends, but we do miss the beach. Usually we're stuck out in the middle of nowhere and there's no coast, and you're looking for a beach and can't find one."
Do the three of you have many arguments?
"We argue all the time, but we just argue for a joke. We're always arguing about who's got the biggest muscles, as none of us have any at all (laughs)! Just that kind of stuff, nothing serious."
Although frogstomp is a new release in Britain, it has been out for some time around the rest of the world. For silverchair, it's old news, as they look forward to recording new material and conquering America.
"We've written three new songs, I think we're going to try to record the next album in April '96 if we have the songs. But the main thing is just to make sure we're happy with the songs we have got, and when we are ready to record we will."
But back in the real world, school is casting the dark spectre of exams over the trio.
"We are actually missing school days at the moment. When we get back we have a tutor every afternoon until we catch up on the work. It's a real bummer! We've got exams four days after we return from America. It's kinda stressful, but it doesn't matter."
Do you reckon you are going to bomb out?
"Yep! We just had two tests before we left, and I studied heaps for them and it went okay. But these ones, I haven't studied for at all! I can't even be bothered! I don't even care!"
[Thanks to Amanda for the transcript.]